Make eye contact as frequently as possible. You should learn to know each earthy rim of her irises better than your own, so that when she doesn’t talk, you can at least understand the language of her glare.
Ask her questions. Let her play the Call, not just the Response. While you are used to filling the silence with your own anecdotes and her cough-like laugh, still make the effort to hear her stories. They won’t come easy. No, you will have to earn those whispered glimpses about her life before you. So when she speaks, listen. Ask follow-up questions and nod your head, cultivating her comfort with speaking to you like a glassblower and his art. Take care in her voice and you will find yourself with a rare, multi-colored vase of flowers, rather than an explosion of hot glass shattered on your tile floors, a possible masterpiece lost.
Touch her. Not in an aggressive, sexual manner, but in a tender “Remember, I’m here” kind of way. As she stands against the wall, apathetic to the loud electronica and strobe lights painting neon pictures on the side of her face, cross the room and graze her hand. PDA is not welcome, but a public stroke of her hair, a gentle brush against her cheek to remove a fallen eyelash– these motions will let her know that she is admired.
Do not confuse her patience with tolerance. She may not tell you that the stray droplets of urine that you leave on the toilet seat bother her, but they do. She might not call you out when you orgasm first then go right to sleep, but she wants to. She keeps quiet not to please you (never get that idea in your head) but rather to keep things simple for herself. She may pretend to be unaffected or oblivious of your careless antics, but remember: your girl is observant. If it would irritate your last girlfriend when you left empty cartons of soymilk in the refrigerator, there’s a good chance that it bothers your new love as well. So make an effort to notice her subtle winces when you leave the cap off of the toothpaste. Take note, and then try to do better.
When you fight, do not expect her to crack. While it would be amusing to watch her stiff lip fall open, unleashing a slur of insults and profanities capable of making even Kanye West quiver, in all reality, that will probably not happen. Expect your yells to be met with pure silence. Her lack of retaliatory punches will not only hurt, but sting, like icy winds on mid-January mornings. You’ll be frustrated and want a response from her: “Fuck you”, “You’re an asshole”, “I hate you”– any fighting words would be better than nothing at all. But they won’t come. If she says anything it will be in the form of a note: “You disappoint me” written in soft cursive on a post-it waiting on your pillow. Notice the unsteadiness of the hand that wrote those words, and apologize.
Do not start a Cold War; muteness has always been her defense. She will ignore and avoid you until the sound of your own frustrated inner monologues will make your ears ring from the inside out. You will cave, and she will ultimately win. She’ll always win.
When she chooses to wear the red scarf instead of the seven other brown, black and grey ones hanging in the closet next to it, let her know how beautiful it is to see her in color. When her headphones are in and shoes are off, take the soft spot on the sofa next to her and ask what she’s listening to. When she’s looking out the window, try to see what she sees.
Do not, though, lose yourself for her. She may be reticent to speak herself, but that doesn’t mean her ears don’t lust to inhale your words each morning at the breakfast table. While she may blush during R-rated movies, she still enjoys your crude jokes. You two are together to mend the distance between silence and noise, dark and light, chocolate and vanilla, and she knows that. Embrace the miscommunications and disagreements as part of the process, and live together as distinct entities that through divine intervention were still somehow made into corresponding shapes.
When you see her, smile.